Puppy classes can be loads of fun and very educational for puppies and owners alike.
There is a big world for a puppy to explore. Pups enjoy a unique "socialization period," usually between 3-16 weeks of age. This is when many important social behaviors begin to develop. Puppies are like sponges and absorb a lot of information about proper play and pack behavior. As the puppy grows, the human family continues to have a huge impact on what the puppy learns and how it acts.
Statistically, a dog is more likely to be euthanized because of behavior problem from inadequate socialization than by an infectious disease outbreak (i.e. distemper or parvovirus).
This is why puppies should attend class during the sensitive socialization period.
Goals of Puppy Preschool
Improve understanding of canine behavior, psychology, and learning style
Learn proper desensitization techniques
Set appropriate expectations for your puppy
Teach basic manners
Basic training (crate training, potty training, walking on a leash, sitting, and many more)
Early identification of inappropriate or troublesome behaviors
Adress unruly or unwanted behaviors
Provide a safe environment for social interactions with other puppies and humans
Below are some frequently asked questions about Puppy Preschool classes. If you have any additional questions or would like to sign up for our next available class, please call to speak with one of our knowledgeable receptionists. Don’t wait! Classes fill up quickly and we only have a small window in which to take advantage of your puppy’s socialization period.
Is my puppy ready for Puppy Preschool?
All puppies must be 12 weeks old or younger when they start class. Puppies less than four months old have very different social skills and behaviors than adolescent or adult dogs. Grouping small puppies and adolescents together is like placing a 3-year old in class with a young teenager. Each age group demonstrates very different interests, attention spans, and needs. Each course last approximately 4 weeks, so all graduating puppies will be in the same age group.
To ensure that they are healthy, puppies must be examined by a veterinarian prior to attending the first class. Remember, CSAH honors the free exam voucher that you may have received from local adoption organizations. This voucher is valid within 30 days of adoption. This voucher is for the exam only and does not include vaccines or tests (fecal flotation test, heartworm test, etc). There will be an exam fee if your pet is injured or ill.
Your puppy needs a first distemper/parvovirus/parainfluenza vaccine at least 1 week prior to class. Please make sure that your puppy is appropriately boostered thereafter.
We strongly recommend that puppies be checked for intestinal parasites or be de-wormed prior to starting class. We also recommend that puppies 12 weeks of age or older receive an intranasal bordatella vaccination to help limit the spread of kennel cough.
Any puppies with vomiting, diarrhea, or coughing are not permitted to attend class. If your puppy becomes sick during the course of preschool, we encourage you to continue attending class without your puppy. This way you can continue your puppy’s education at home.
Who teaches Puppy Preschool?
Dr. Jaclyn Amber and Crystal Coffie, one of our veterinary technicians, will be in charge of leading our classes. Both veterinary professionals have a special interest in helping owners to form and maintain happy lifelong relationships with their pets. Along with her duties as a veterinary technician, Crystal also serves as our Client Education Coordinator. She takes pride in making even the most technical information accessible to all pet owners.
What is the schedule for Preschool?
Our preschool classes last approximately 4 weeks, and include 6 sessions. Ask one of our friendly receptionists for the exact dates of our upcoming class. The first two classes will be held without the puppies present and will last approximately 1.5 hours; these are typically held on the weekend. At this orientation, we will outline classes, cover basic concepts, address individual concerns, and answer questions. Feel free to bring the immediate family members or friends who will be involved with your puppy’s socialization. We request that you limit the number of humans to 3 per puppy. If you need an exception, please contact Dr. Amber. A few days later, we start weekly classes with your puppy! Each class will be about 1.5 hours in length.
I have a small breed puppy. Will my puppy be in class with large breed puppies? Is it safe?
Yes! We mix sizes of puppies and this a good thing! Puppies need to learn how to interact with other dogs of a variety of sizes and temperaments. Classes are small, and all play is supervised. Interaction between puppies helps them to learn confidence and healthy social behavior. When puppies do not get to interact with a variety of dogs, they learn to be fearful of anything that is outside their limited comfort zone.
How many puppies are in each class?
Our classes are limited to 6 puppies per class so that we can give you focused and personalized attention.
Classes are already full. What do I do?
Please speak with a receptionist so they can put your information on a cancellation/overflow list. If we have a large enough request for additional classes, Dr. Amber and Crystal may be able to offer an additional class.
Is Puppy Preschool the same as obedience class?
Although preschool demonstrates how to teach puppies some basic visual and verbal cues, this is not an obedience class. Some verbal cues we will cover in our class include “watch me.” “let me see,” easy/gentle/relax, sit, stay, come, and how to walk nicely on a leash. However, our main focus will be socialization, whereas obedience classes focus on immediate response to a variety of commands or cues. Obedience (or agility) classes can benefit for your puppy as he or she ages. There are many resources available in Asheville; ask one of our receptionists for recommendations.
Do you offer classes for dogs older than 16 weeks of age?
Unfortunately we do not offer this service at this time. Our receptionists can put you in contact with local behaviorists. Additionally we offer behavioral consultations with our veterinarians to address specific concerns.
Can I bring my adult dog with us to help teach my puppy?
No. For previously discussed reasons, we will focus just on our puppies. Adult dogs that are well socialized definitely can help your puppy learn more quickly. We will be happy to discuss with you how to work with your puppy and your adult dog at home.
Do you utilize negative reinforcement?
No. We strongly recommend using positive reinforcement and classical conditioning in your training. In our experience, this method of training tends to be most effective and yields consistent results, developing the happiest, most confident puppy possible. Our approach is based on the positive training methods proposed by Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM MS. You can learn about her training philosophy by visiting her website. We will discuss this topic and answer all questions on the first day of class.
My puppy is wild/fearful/submissive/aggressive. Can we come to class?
As with humans, puppies have different personalities. Not all puppies learn in the same way--this is normal! Our goal is to help every puppy learn positive social behaviors and sometimes, this process may take extra time or require special attention. Occasionally, a particular puppy needs socialization and play time with the rest of the class, and also needs to have individual training time in order to focus more easily. Dr. Amber will let you know if she feels that your puppy has a personality that needs personal attention and we will be delighted to work with you to address your special puppy's individual needs.
How much does Puppy Preschool cost?
Each session (including 6 classes) is $100. Payment is required at the orientation class and reserves your place in the session. Speak with one of our receptionists for details.
What happens if I miss a class?
Because spaces are limited, we cannot offer refunds for missed classes, nor can we offer a la carte admittance into individual classes. For special circumstances, please contact Dr. Amber to discuss alternatives.
Can my kids come?
We love for children to be involved in training their puppies! However, some concepts we teach may be difficult for small children to understand, or they may become bored. For these reasons, we recommend that small children stay at home, or that there is at least 2 adults present so that 1 adult can step away with the children if necessary.
Please call 828-232-0440 for more details.
Other Services, Classes or Workshop offerings:
- Chinese medicine and acupuncture with Dr. Erin Husted
- Avian behavior consultations with Dr. Beth Rhyne
- Exotic pet care with Dr. Beth Rhyne
- Chiropractic care with Dr. John Faherty
- Canine behavior with Kim Brophey
- Animal communication with Cindy Smith